Tough Sh*t, the memoir by multi-hyphenate filmmaker/actor/podcaster Kevin Smith, is every bit as entertaining as you’d think.
I’ve been reading a lot of biographies during the pandemic quarantine but not so many memoirs. Suffice it to say, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good is one of the outright entertaining reads of the past year. I could hear Smith’s voice coming through the pages as I turned them over the course of two weekends.
I’m not lying when I say that this book is very entertaining. Smith covers every aspect of his life–the good and the bad. Remember the Southwest Airlines incident? I honestly forgot but it came back to me quickly when I saw the chapter heading. One more thing to note: the book is just as raunchy as a Kevin Smith film.
Going into the premiere of Red State at Sundance, Smith decided he was “done with the critical community and film press.” Every filmmaker has their own history with film press. I get it. I am someone who doesn’t like to pan a movie. Similarly, I made the decision to no longer grade films because I do not how I will feel at a later date. Smith’s comments about grading art only serve to reinforce this decision. Moreover, I weirdly became a film critic after studying improv and sketch comedy. I’ve written a number of unproduced screenplays in various stages of the writing process. But let me just say this: Kevin Smith’s name alone is enough to get my interest in seeing a film.
When we think back about the history of independent film, 1994 was an important year. This was when Clerks made its premiere at Sundance and was acquired by Miramax. The same year, Miramax would also distribute Pulp Fiction. The early work of Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino were both released by Miramax. Smith writes about Tarantino when discussing Red State. Smith describes Tarantino as always being his role model. The filmmaker goes onto write all the things that Tarantino made okay to do in movies. You can find this at the end of Chapter 10. Anyway, I feel that Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino are among the few filmmakers that you can spend hours discussing movies. I’ve met and spoken to Quentin in late 2019. He held court all night long!
Much like the Steve Jobs/Pixar chapter in Bob Iger’s book, the George Carlin chapter had me in tears. It’s not so much because of Carlin being a legendary comedian but in how Smith describes their relationship. The chapter ends with a photo of Smith on stage at a sold-out Carnegie Hall performance.
What is interesting, however, is reading this book a few years after the Harvey Weinstein news. Is it uncomfortable reading a lot of praise about Weinstein? No doubt. But reading how Kevin Smith drops an F bomb while Harvey is loudly complaining in the Eccles Theater lobby more than makes up for this. There’s a part of me that could not believe that Harvey calls up John Cooper to ask him to delay the Red State premiere to watch a football game. But knowing what we know now about the former studio mogul, I can’t be surprised by his behavior. It’s just a shame that some of his other behavior wasn’t made public sooner.
If you can get through all the Harvey talk, Tough Sh*t is an entertaining and raunchy read.